We all have an inner critic – you know that voice that talks to us and offer us “advice”. Trouble is, this kind of self-talk can be very negative and unhelpful, especially when it comes to accepting ourselves exactly the way we are. Remember, we are our thoughts – so they can become beliefs about ourselves and if you let them run wild, they can lead to anxiety and even shame.
Let’s face it, it’s hard to feel uplifted and positive when you have a strong inner critic that manages to make you feel bad about yourself and your actions. Silencing this inner critic is one of the most positive ways you can affect your wellbeing. It does take practice – and through awareness and diligence, you can encourage your mind to engage in positive self-talk. And it’s so worth it – over time the changes can be amazing!
Here are some tips for moving away from self-criticism and adopting thoughts patterns that are much more helpful and self-loving.
Think about what you’d tell other people
If the same situation happened to a friend, it’s very doubtful you’d tell them the same things you tell yourself – right? We tend to be a lot harsher on ourselves than we are on other people, especially when it comes to mistakes. Next time you say, standing in front of a mirror and your inner critic pipes up telling you your outfit doesn’t look very good, try asking yourself what you’d say if it were your friend standing in front of you.
Quieting your Critter Brain
What’s a critter brain you ask? It’s the cortex part of your brain that will send you into freeze, fight or flight mode when change is coming up. It does not like change at all – it wants to protect you from anything that it deems may not be safe (picture the caveman running from or fighting a tiger – that’s the critter brain reacting).
We need to first recognize that our critter brain is engaged and then we need to help it feel calm and OK. Here’s an example – we often say to ourselves “I should be doing this perfectly and anything less than perfect is a failure. That must mean that this isn’t the right time or I should wait until I get everything done perfectly” – sound familiar?
Rather than stopping (freezing), you can recognize where these feelings and thoughts are coming from and then talk to your critter brain – yes you heard me right! Say something like “thank you for trying to protect me, I am safe and am good with moving forward as things are – it does not mean failure, and I really appreciate you trying to protect me”. That will calm things down and allow you to take the next step – even if it’s a baby step.
Focus on your strengths and accomplishments
Starting to see yourself in a different way is key. Your inner critic can make it hard to appreciate your “wins” but there is where a “proud moments” journal can work wonders. It helps you to appreciate the things that you’re good at and retrains your mind to see the best in you, rather than the areas that you think you’re lacking in.
Another trick is to write a list of your strengths and keep it folded up in your purse or pocket. Whenever your inner critic shows up, you can refer to this list and remind you of your strengths. If you can’t come up with many on your own, rope in family and friends to tell you what they see your strengths as. They’ll be able to open your eyes to a lot of things you don’t feel you’re good at and this can help you to see yourself differently.
Adopting a more mindful way of dealing with your thoughts can help your inner critic be less powerful. If you’ve been so used to your self-criticism that it’s now second nature, mindfulness can also be a great way to make yourself aware of your critical thoughts in the first place. Once you can identify when they happen, you’re in a much better place to challenge them. You might find it helpful to record patterns between your negative self-talk and how you feel when it happens.
Use positive affirmations
Making positive mantras and affirmations a key part of your day can help to move your thought patterns from negative to positive. This can be really effective for silencing your inner critic if you adapt your affirmations to focus on positive things about yourself – particularly areas that you feel negative about right now. Over time, it should help to retrain your thought processes. Here are some mantras you can try out.
I want to acknowledge that there is no quick way to get to know your inner critic…it does take practice and consistency – and it’s worth the time! Life can feel and look amazingly different once you know yourself better than you ever have before. Give it a try – even 1% change per day adds up over time – and it’s easy to do!
When we fuel our mind, body, and spirit, magic happens!
I love helping people get to know their inner critic so we can learn how it affects our thoughts, actions, and interactions. If you want some help looking at your own inner critic, book a free Personal Power Hour with me.